Christmas trading explained: SmartCompany’s guide to festive season public holidays and opening hours 2015

Christmas trading explained: SmartCompany’s guide to festive season public holidays and opening hours 2015

‘Tis the season for confusion over Christmas trading hours.

Each Australian state and territory has its own trading rules and even those businesses outside of the retail sector need to know which days they can trade and which days will mean paying your staff more.

Here’s SmartCompany’s guide to Christmas and New Year trading hours and restrictions for 2015-16.


This year Christmas Day falls on a Friday and Boxing Day is on a Saturday. Both days are public holidays in Victoria, as is Monday, December 28, which is an additional holiday to make up for Boxing Day falling on the weekend.

For New Year’s Day, January 1 also falls on a Friday and is classified as a public holiday.

Businesses are not permitted to open on Christmas Day, unless they fit into an exemption category. This includes shops that have 20 or fewer persons employed at any time, and businesses that have no more than 100 employees at any time during the seven days prior to Christmas. However, some businesses are able to open whenever they want. These include chemists, petrol stations, restaurants, cafes, takeaway outlets, service providers and hire outlets.

New South Wales

December 25 and December 26 are also public holidays in NSW. Like their Victorian counterparts, people in NSW will also have a public holiday on Monday, December 28, and on New Year’s Day on Friday, January 1, 2016.

In NSW, Christmas Day and Boxing Day are both restricted trading days, however, the state government has passed legislation that means more businesses will be able to trade this Boxing Day.

Previously only small shops, businesses within the Sydney trading precinct and holders of hotel licenses, along with businesses in certain government areas, were allowed to trade on Boxing Day. Starting this Boxing Day, all businesses in NSW will be able to trade on the holiday, however penalties of up to $11,000 per employee may apply if a business is found to have coerced employees to work on Boxing Day.

Australian Capital Territory

Businesses in the ACT will need to follow the same rules as their counterparts in Victoria and NSW this festive season. Christmas Day and Boxing Day are both designated public holidays in the ACT, as is Monday, December 28, and January 1.

As trading hours are deregulated in the ACT, businesses can choose when to trade.


Queensland will observe a public holiday on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and the following Monday, December 28. New Year’s Day, Friday, January 1, is also a public holiday.

Trading regulations across Queensland are extensive and complicated, with special rules also applying in the four weeks to Christmas. Trading rules also differ depending on the local government area. For more detailed information about which businesses can trade and when, visit the Queensland government’s website.

Northern Territory

December 25, December 26 and December 28 will all be public holidays in the Northern Territory. January 1, 2016, will also be a public holiday in the territory.

Trading hours are mostly deregulated in the NT, except for certain stores that sell liquor.

South Australia

Unlike the other states, South Australia celebrates a half-day public holiday on Christmas Eve, which means Thursday, December 24, will be classed as a public holiday between 7pm and midnight this year. December 25 is a public holiday, as is Monday, December 28, which is Proclamation Day across the state.

South Australians also receive a half-day public holiday on New Year’s Eve (between 7pm and midnight on Thursday, December 31) and a public holiday on Friday, January 1, 2016.

In South Australia, non-exempt shops such as supermarkets and department stores cannot trade on public holidays and they must also remain closed on January 1 as well. Some smaller and specialty shops can trade without restriction on public holidays and there are others that are partially restricted. There are also restrictions based on which shopping district the business is located in. Check the SafeWork SA website for more detailed information.


Christmas Day and Boxing Day are designated public holidays in Tasmania, as is Monday, December 28, which is an additional holiday because Boxing Day falls on Saturday this year. Friday, January 1, 2016 will also be a public holiday.

Western Australia

West Australians will also receive public holidays on December 25, 26 and 28 this year. New Year’s Day is also a public holiday.

Like Queensland, WA’s public holiday trading rules are complicated and differ depending on category of business and the region in which it trades. More information is available from the WA Commerce Department’s website. The WA Government does extend retail trading hours in the lead-up to and the immediate aftermath of Christmas. Here is the current schedule for the Perth metropolitan area in the week leading up to Christmas Day and the week after:

Friday December 18: 7am – 9pm

Saturday December 19: 7am – 6pm

Sunday December 20: 8am – 6pm

Monday December 21: 7am – 9pm

Tuesday December 22: 7am – 9pm

Wednesday December 23: 7am – 9pm

Thursday December 24: 7am – 9pm

Friday December 25: Closed

Saturday December 26: 8am- 6pm

Sunday December 27: 8am – 6pm

Monday December 28: 8am – 6pm

Tuesday December 29: 7am – 9pm

Wednesday December 30: 7am – 9pm

Thursday December 31: 7am – 9pm

Friday January 1: 8am – 6pm

Saturday January 2 8am – 5pm


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